Alhemizers.gov shared that the symptoms of vascular dementia can appear suddenly and may progress slowly over time. Symptoms often look similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, but memory loss is more prominent in Alzheimer’s, whereas problems with organization, attention, and problem-solving may be more obvious in vascular dementia.
People with vascular dementia may experience:
- Difficulty performing tasks that used to be easy, such as paying bills
- Trouble following instructions or learning new information and routines
- Forgetting current or past events
- Misplacing items
- Getting lost on familiar routes
- Problems with language, such as finding the right word or using the wrong word
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty reading and writing
- Loss of interest in things or people
- Changes in personality, behavior, and mood, such as depression, agitation, and anger
- Hallucinations or delusions (believing something is real that is not)
- Poor judgment and loss of ability to perceive danger
Symptoms may depend on the size, location, and the number of damaged areas of the brain.
What Causes Vascular Dementia?
Vascular dementia is caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain and interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. In the research community, these conditions are known as vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). The brains of people with vascular dementia often show evidence of prior strokes, thickening blood vessel walls, and thinning white matter — the brain’s connecting “wires” that relay messages between regions.
Not everyone who has had a stroke will develop vascular dementia. A person’s risk for dementia after stroke depends on the size and number of strokes and the brain regions affected. Vascular dementia can also result from other conditions that impede blood flow and delivery of oxygen to the brain, such as narrowing of the arteries.
High blood pressure, problems with the heartbeat’s rhythm, diabetes, and high cholesterol can increase a person’s risk of vascular dementia. By controlling or managing risk factors, you may lower your chance of developing cognitive impairment and dementia.